Bihar faces a 2008 Kosi-like flood situation, with the Gandak River, flowing from Nepal, threatening to breach its embankments in the Barrauli block of Gopalganj district in North Bihar.
"The breach is imminent now. The entire workforce trying to bolster the embankments has been withdrawn. Only a miracle can save us," Ajoy Nayak, principal secretary of the state’s Water Resources Department (WRD) told HT on Wednesday."
WRD officials said about 14 lakh people in three districts – Gopalganj, Saran and Siwan – are under the threat of floods.
Engineer-in-Chief (North) of the State Water Resources Department, Rajeshwar Dayal told HT on Wednesday, "The situation is dangerous. The river water has been caught up in a shifting vortex and is pounding the entire embankment length between Batadeh and Salehpur and till Simaria. It could give way anytime. We are not in a position to hold out any assurance."
If the embankment is breached, senior WRD engineers believe that the devastation would be greater than that in the Kosi area in 2008.
About 150,000 people in four panchayats — Jhajhagarh, Barauli, Baikunthpur and Chitwalia in Gopalganj have already been evacuated.
Gopalganj District Magistrate D. Balamurugan told HT, "We are evacuating people from the Simaria and Barauli areas. The threat is real. It is a very dangerous situation. Seeing is believing. We are keeping our fingers crossed."
WRD engineers said the threat started developing five days ago. What had seemed to be a momentary situation became alarming, forcing Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to convene an emergency meeting with the state’s chief secretary, development commissioner, and WRD secretary on Saturday.
The imminent breach in the Gandak embankment has raised the spectre of a Kosi-like catastrophe. The Kosi, which breached its embankments near Kusaha in Nepal, in August 2008 affected 14.19 lakh people in five districts. The death toll was 527 people, with 272 deaths reported from Madhepura district, while 171 went missing.